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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Eagle's Shadow - Chapter 11
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The Eagle's Shadow - Chapter 11 Post by :louise_annis Category :Long Stories Author :James Branch Cabell Date :July 2011 Read :2648

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The Eagle's Shadow - Chapter 11

CHAPTER XI

In the living-hall Margaret came upon Hugh Van Orden, who was searching in one of the alcoves for a piece of music that Adele Haggage wanted and had misplaced.

The boy greeted her miserably.

"Miss Hugonin," he lamented, "you're awfully hard on me."

"I am sorry," said Margaret, "that you consider me discourteous to a guest in my own house." Oh, I grant you Margaret was in a temper now.

"It isn't that," he protested; "but I never see you alone. And I've had something to tell you."

"Yes?" said she, coldly.

He drew near to her. "Surely," he breathed, "you must know what I have long wanted to tell you--"

"Yes, I should think I _did!_" said Margaret, "and if you dare tell me a word of it I'll never speak to you again. It's getting a little monotonous. Good-night, Mr. Van Orden."

Half way up the stairs she paused and ran lightly back.

"Oh, Hugh, Hugh!" she said, contritely, "I was unpardonably rude. I'm sorry, dear, but it's quite impossible. You are a dear, cute little boy, and I love you--but not that way. So let's shake hands, Hugh, and be friends! And then you can go and play with Adele." He raised her hand to his lips. He really was a nice boy.

"But, oh, dear!" said Margaret, when he had gone; "what horrid creatures men are, and what a temper I'm in, and what a vexatious place the world is! I wish I were a pauper! I wish I had never been born! And I wish--and I wish I had those League papers fixed! I'll do it to-night! I'm sure I need something tranquillising, like assessments and decimal places and unpaid dues, to keep me from _screaming_. I hate them all--all three of them--as badly as I do _him!_"

Thereupon she blushed, for no apparent reason, and went to her own rooms in a frame of mind that was inexcusable, but very becoming. Her cheeks burned, her eyes flashed with a brighter glow that was gem-like and a little cruel, and her chin tilted up defiantly. Margaret had a resolute chin, a masculine chin. I fancy that it was only at the last moment that Nature found it a thought too boyish and modified it with a dimple--a very creditable dimple, by the way, that she must have been really proud of. That ridiculous little dint saved it, feminised it.

Altogether, then, she swept down upon the papers of the Ladies' League for the Edification of the Impecunious with very much the look of a diminutive Valkyrie--a Valkyrie of unusual personal attractions, you understand--_en route for the battle-field and a little, a very little eager and expectant of the strife.

Subsequently, "Oh, dear, _dear!_" said she, amid a feverish rustling of papers; "the whole world is out of sorts to-night! I never _did know how much seven times eight is, and I hate everybody, and I've left that list of unpaid dues in Uncle Fred's room, and I've got to go after it, and I don't want to! Bother those little suitors of mine!"

Miss Hugonin rose, and went out from her own rooms, carrying a bunch of keys, across the hallway to the room in which Frederick R. Woods had died. It was his study, you may remember. It had been little used since his death, but Margaret kept her less important papers there--the overflow, the flotsam of her vast philanthropic and educational correspondence.

And there she found Billy Woods.

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CHAPTER XIIHis back was turned to the door as she entered. He was staring at a picture beside the mantel--a portrait of Frederick R. Woods--and his eyes when he wheeled about were wistful. Then, on a sudden, they lighted up as if they had caught fire from hers, and his adoration flaunted crimson banners in his cheeks, and his heart, I dare say, was a great blaze of happiness. He loved her, you see; when she entered a room it really made a difference to this absurd young man. He saw a great many lights, for instance, and heard music. And
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CHAPTER XIn the living-hall of Selwoode Miss Hugonin paused. Undeniably there were the accounts of the Ladies' League for the Edification of the Impecunious to be put in order; her monthly report as treasurer was due in a few days, and Margaret was in such matters a careful, painstaking body, and not wholly dependent upon her secretary; but she was entirely too much out of temper to attend to that now. It was really all Mr. Kennaston's fault, she assured a pricking conscience, as she went out on the terrace before Selwoode. He had bothered her dreadfully. There she found Petheridge
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